Illinois (3-7) at Purdue (1-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 23, 12 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ross-Ade Stadium (62,500) -- West Lafayette, Indiana.
Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: Illinois 3-3, Purdue 1-5. Away
Record: Illinois 0-3, Purdue 0-4. Neutral Record: Illinois 0-1, Purdue 0-0.
Conference Record: Illinois 0-6, Purdue 0-6. Series Record: Purdue leads,
GAME NOTES: The last place tie in the Big Ten Conference's Leaders Division
will be broken as the Illinois Fighting Illini match up with the Purdue
Boilermakers at Ross-Ade Stadium.
The Fighting Illini's promising 3-1 start to the season unraveled once it
entered conference play. Since coasting past Miami-Ohio on Sept. 28, Illinois
has lost six games in a row to fall to 0-6 in the Big Ten standings. Coach Tim
Beckman's team suffered a 60-35 setback to the powerful Ohio State Buckeyes
last week in Champaign in its most recent outing. Despite the end result,
Illinois finished the game strong after falling behind 28-0 by the 10:20 mark
of the second quarter. The Fighting Illini will conclude their 2013 season
next week at home versus Northwestern as the loss mathematically eliminated
their chances of becoming bowl eligible.
Darrell Hazell's first year as the Boilermakers' head coach has been
disappointing, as the team dropped to 1-9 last week with a 45-21 loss to Penn
State in State College. Purdue's only victory came over its lone FCS opponent
Indiana State and eight of its losses have come by a double-digit margins.
Hazell came to the program with a 16-10 career record he built at Kent State
and was the 2012 MAC Coach of the Year. He will have a chance to try to
rebuild his squad after the Boilermakers conclude their season at Indiana next
This will be the 62nd time in history Illinois and Purdue battle for the
Cannon Trophy. The Boilermakers won last season's meeting, 20-17, in Champaign
to increase their all-time series lead to 32-27-2.
The poor showing by Illinois this season has not come to a lack of production
on the offensive side of the ball. The team is averaging 30.2 points, 23.7
first downs and 428.8 yards of total offense per game. Senior quarterback
Nathan Scheelhaase passed for 288 yards versus OSU to arrive at 8,004 career
passing yards. The trip to West Lafayette could be a historic event for
Scheelhaase as he enters the contest just four yards shy of 10,000 career
total yards of offense and is the same number away from the 2,000-yard mark in
career rushing yards.
Scheelhaase threw a pair of touchdown passes and was picked off twice last
week. On the season, the senior signal caller has hit on 65.4 percent of his
throws for 2,708 yards, 17 TDs and 10 interceptions. His favorite target,
Steve Hull, made eight receptions for 105 yards and a score against the
Buckeyes. The rushing attack has been less efficient as sophomore Josh
Ferguson is pacing the Illini with 554 yards and five touchdowns on 107
The defensive unit has let Illinois down since its season opener when it
surrendered 34 points to FCS foe Southern Illinois. The Fighting Illini has
allowed 39 points or more in five of their six Big Ten outings and three
opponents surpassed the 50-point mark during that stretch. Zane Petty tallied
15 tackles to pace the team versus OSU. Senior linebacker Jonathan Brown, who
finished with six stops to arrive at a conference leading total of 94 on the
Illinois could fare better this week as it faces Purdue's weak offensive unit
that is averaging only 259.6 total yards and 12.7 points per game to rank last
in both categories among BCS conference schools.
The Boilermakers turned the reins of the offense over to freshman quarterback
Danny Etling after Rob Henry failed to get the job done. The rookie has
experienced some growing pains during his six games. Last week at PSU, Etling
was 21-of-33 for 223 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He was
also sacked six times, while Purdue's offensive line paved the way for only 41
team rushing yards on 20 attempts (2.0 ypc). Etling, who is just the second
true freshman to start for the program since 2002, has tossed five TDs and six
INTs in six games.
Rebuilding is clearly a priority for Hazell, who started six freshmen on
offense last week and played 16 different rookies in total. One of which was
DeAngelo Yancey, who leads the team with 338 receiving yards.
Purdue is not much better defensively, ranking 102nd nationally in total
defense (444.7 ypg) and 113th in points allowed per game (38). The Nittany
Lions exposed the Boilermakers' many weaknesses as they amassed 501 total
yards, 31 first downs and six offensive TDs. Senior corner Ricardo Allen was
named to the Jim Thorpe Award watch list in the preseason. He has registered
38 tackles and three interceptions through 10 games.
The inexperience on the offensive side of the ball for Purdue will most likely
lead to giveaways. The Fighting Illini's defense has been porous to this
point, but they can help the team to victory if they can return the ball to
their capable offense for a few extra possessions.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Illinois 34, Purdue 20
11/20 10:40:43 ET
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